October 08, 2014

The Myth of Becoming an Adult


After pouring me a glass of wine this weekend, my mom told me that when she looks at me, she doesn't just see 24-year-old Nicole. She sees 5-year-old, 8-year-old, 12-year-old, and 17-year-old Nicole too. The only difference now is that this Nicole is holding a glass of Riesling.

I asked her how that worked, seeing as I'm so much different now than I was when I was five. 

But when my dad asked me how I was different, it took a second for me to say why. The best I could come up with was, "Well, I know how to pretend to be an adult now."

To which my dad responded, "Well good. That's all anyone is doing anyway."

And with that statement, my dad confirmed the suspicion I've had ever since I realized my pimple gene didn't shut off once I started paying income taxes: that "becoming an adult" is the greatest myth of our society, just narrowly beating out the whole Santa debacle.

As far as I can tell, our brains don't eventually switch over to adult-mode; we've all got the same voices in our heads we did when we were five, falling on the ground in hysterics when we realize ice cream's not for dinner.

Really, no one ever completely ditches the melodramatic post-potty-trained mindset... it's just now, we know how to control it. 

No one ever starts enjoying office party small talk... we just learn how much attention we need to pay to act believably interested in Janet-across-the-hall's new pool pump.

No one ever stops finding Janet-across-the-hall agonizingly annoying... we just learn that sometimes, you don't need to let everyone know.

No one ever learns that their parents are superhumans in disguise... we just realize that they are people too, but with a lot more experience.

No one ever suddenly finds a group of friends with whom they always agree... we just learn that sometimes, letting Pizza Paul pick pizza for the sixth time in a row is more important than always getting our way.

No one ever gets pumped to go through airport security... we just learn that it's okay if people aren't constantly aware of our dissatisfaction.

Really, becoming a "grown up" doesn't mean you secretly stop hoping the world will one day start revolving around you, or that ice cream will become the base of the food pyramid... you just learn to accept that it doesn't, and act accordingly.